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Case Study: Npower Provides ECDL to Staff

Home services provider, npower, are offering European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) training to more than 8,000 staff at their offices across the country, commencing in February 2004. Training specialists, Keystrokes, an ECDL accredited testing centre, will be managing the training programme alongside npower's Organisational Development Team.

npower's Organisational Development Manager, Alec Rudd says, "I'd like to provide individuals with a recognition of their IT skills and also to create a benchmark of IT abilities across the organisation especially in the use of file management, emailing and internet use. ECDL has proven to fit the bill."

The decision to use ECDL as a benchmark across the organisation comes as a result of a pilot study conducted last year. The pilot, conducted by Keystrokes to 20 npower staff, was used to evaluate materials from two e-learning providers as well as the value of a blended learning approach with training workshops and mentor support. The pilot was also used to evaluate the value of ECDL as a certification programme. Findings from the pilot were very positive and participants reported an increase in confidence in using software packages after studying for ECDL.

As a result of the pilot study findings, npower have decided to provide candidates with LearnECDL online learning materials which will be available on the company's intranet. The pilot findings also identified that mentor support was vital to e-learning success and Keystrokes will again be providing each candidate with mentor support to help them through the course materials and to prepare them for the ECDL tests. npower are allowing candidates with two hours of protected learning time within office hours each week to prepare for the certification.

The ECDL programme will start in February with a new cohort of learners beginning each month. Each candidate will be given 6 months in which to complete four modules of ECDL to achieve ECDL START. npower identified two modules as a vital benchmark to all departments. Candidates, in conjunction with their line managers, will then select another two modules relevant to their job role. Once they have achieved ECDL START individuals will be able to continue learning in their own time to achieve the full ECDL certificate. This will be positively supported by many managers.

Keen for candidates to be able to learn away from the distractions at their desks, Alec Rudd has been the driving force to establish Learning Resource Centres across the country and these have been set up at Worcester, Stoke-on-Trent, Oldbury, Leeds and Team Valley. These centres will be used for programme launch workshops, self-study and testing. Key npower staff have already received ECDL invigilator training and will be champions for their colleagues going through the programme.

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© 2004 British Computer Society. Reproduced with the permission.

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